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City through Jhumpa’s eyes

What: Jhumpa Lahiri on her writing and Calcutta’s role in it, in conversation with Rudrangshu Mukherjee of The Telegraph.

When: January 23, 5.30pm.

Where: Steps of Victoria Memorial Hall.

Entry: Through the East Gate (opposite St. Paul’s Cathedral) and North Gate (main entrance).

Parking: No parking available at the venue.

Rules: Guests must carry a pass. Seating is on first-come basis.

As a kid, Jhumpa Lahiri hated her Bengali parents’ deep longing for Calcutta, a feeling she couldn’t be a part of, being born in the UK and raised in America. It is curious then that Calcutta is omnipresent in all her books, more in its absence, but the connection is unmistakable. Or may be the connection is obvious.

We’ll soon find out, for on Thursday, Jhumpa Lahiri will be part of a special “prologue” session of the third Kolkata Literary Meet (KLM), being held at Victoria Memorial, in association with The Telegraph.

“We had been trying to get Jhumpa Lahiri ever since we started a Lit Meet in Calcutta in 2012, because Calcutta is so central to her books. In that sense, we’ve been third-time lucky this year,” said Malavika Banerjee, the director of KLM.

Not just the organisers, Jhumpa’s fans are feeling lucky too. “I like how her writing is sensitive towards the disconnect between one generation and another. Also, the relationships she explores are extremely real and always seem to have a very personal, honest, almost autobiographical tone. And I love Jhumpa Lahiri’s no-frills language,” said Jadavpur University student Disha Raychaudhuri.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer’s participation in a literary event in Calcutta is even more special this year because not only is her latest novel, The Lowland, one of the current bestselling titles across city bookstores but a significant part of the story is physically set in Calcutta, not just in nostalgic memories of her characters.

The six-day Lit Meet will begin on Saturday afternoon, inaugurated by American feminist and writer Gloria Steinem and Bengali poet Sankha Ghosh.

Participants at KLM2014 include Vikram Seth, Mark Tully, Ramachandra Guha, Amit Chaudhuri, Kunal Basu, Adrian Levy, Ian Jack, Sarnath Banerjee, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Soumitra Chatterjee, Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Sharmila Tagore, Jogen Chowdhury, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, Somnath Chatterjee, Anik Dutta, Sujoy Ghosh, Karen Anand, Ali Sethi, Farida Khanum and many more.

For session details and passes, visit or follow the Kolkata Literary Meet page on Facebook.